Phoenix Coyotes Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is the NHL's Best Kept Secret

By Patrick Schmidt
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Coyotes have a rising star in Oliver Ekman-Larsson who at 21 years of age is quickly establishing himself as one of the elite young defensemen in the entire league.

While the Coyotes look like a far cry from the team that played in the Western Conference Finals last year and are tied for the worst record with two points, the play of Ekman-Larsson has been one of the few bright spots.

The sixth overall selection in the 2009 draft leads the team in total ice time by almost four minutes. The 25:12 is more than three minutes more per game than last season when he played his first 82-game schedule and tallied 32 points. He already has four points through five games this season and if not for the truncated season would be a lock to establish career-high numbers across the board.

A big question the Coyotes will have to ask is if the continued stellar play of the Swede can convince the club that trading fellow defenseman Keith Yandle is the best course to take for the team that currently sits at the bottom of the conference.

In a league with a number of talented blue-liners like Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson, Ekman-Larsson is quickly moving into their class despite playing on a woeful team in the middle of the desert. He isn’t getting many headlines now, but he is poised to be a potential Norris Trophy candidate in the next couple of years and could be the biggest building block for the Coyotes in their rebuilding effort.

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Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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